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Us 25, Don 5, Anderson 5, Sandy 5, Newtown 4, Connecticut 4, United States 3, Emilie 3, New York 3, Brook Baldwin 3, Obama 3, Lieberman 3, Vicki Soto 2, Geico 2, Pop 2, Probiotic 2, Cnn 2, Praver 2, Emmitt 2, Aidan 2,
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  CNN    CNN Newsroom    News/Business. Latest on the day's top news stories  
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    December 16, 2012
    3:00 - 4:00pm PST  

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>> people of all ages and faiths and religion are pausing to remember -- pausing to remember, reflect, and grieve together. in the next hour, we're going to have this interfaith service in the high school just over my shoulder, where so many people will be gathered. hundreds have already lined up. already the hall inside is nearly full. i can see hundreds more still lined up in the rain and the cold hoping to get in, hoping to just be together. we've seen that so much the last day or so, people just wanting to be here and be together. people come from all parts of connecticut just to come and be here and witness what's happening here and drop off some flowers or a teddy bear or a toy
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or something, leave a remembrance and pause and reflect. people all around the world are doing the same. i'm joined by many of our colleagues, our correspondents all throughout this town covering the variety of different memorials that are taking place, and joined also right now by wolf blitzer. wolf, i know you talked to two religious leaders about the shooting. i talked to a number last night, a rabbi and a reverend. you talked to a local rabbi and a reverend as well. both of them will be at that service tonight. >> yes, they're both going to be there tonight. they're going to be leading the service. and i had a chance to go to the church yesterday and had a good conversation about god and how these horrible tragedies can happen in a situation like this. there are no easy answers, and the clergy, no matter how smart, no matter how powerful, no matter how astute certainly can
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comfo comfort. both the rabbi and the minister, they were in the firehouse when the families of the 20 kids were told that their little boy, or their little girl, 6-year-old or 7-year-old, had passed away, had died, had been killed in this elementary school shooting. some of the parents were members of their respective congregations, and they tried to do whatever they could to console. let me play a little excerpt of our conversation at the church yesterday. >> so many people have said to me, reverend and rabbi, how can god allow something like this to happen? what do you say? >> one of the things i first say in this moment, this is not the moment to answer that question, at least not to the families that are in grief. i think there are answers. there are answers from my tradition that speak to suffering and how suffering can be transformative, how as a christian, i understand that
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there are ways in which we can transform and be transformed by suffering. but to be honest with you, that's not a question that i try to answer today because people don't need to hear what becomes an oversimplistic answer to something that is so deep and profound. >> what will be the central message that you tell your congregants tomorrow morning. >> i will be preaching a message that, even in the midst of darkness, there is light. it's tragic that we are in the midst of the season for us as christians, which is christmastime and advent, which is a holy time for us, but we also know in the midst of a season that we so often associate with joy and merriment, that it's also a season of darkness. in fact, the gospel of john tells us that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.
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i'll be preaching a message that ms pros, even in the midst of these dark times, that we know that the light of god is with us and that we can be sustained in that and that we can see that light in each other and draw from that light that is a part of our faith. >> the most important thing that we can do as a reaction to this is to thrive. i set my banquet in the presence of my enemies. the enemy is the horrible event, and the banquet is continuing or thriving in life. i lived in israel for ten years, and i saw the way that the israelis would pick up and go right to the spot where something terrible had happened, and the message was we carry on, and we will carry on. we have great schools in newtown. this was an isolated incident. this event doesn't define us. we will continue to have great schools and be a great community. matthew and i are great friends, and all the clergy are great
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friends, and we will recover. >> rabbi praver and pastor crebben will both be at the service tonight where members of the community will be at the prayer service. we heard president obama spent most of the day preparing his remarks, speaking from the heart, speaking for the nation, but also speaking as the father of two young daughters as well. all we can think of now, especially when we see the pictures of the 6 and 7-year-old kids, the memorials, the services that are continuing. brook baldwin is joining us now with details on a few of the victims. brook, this is a heartbreaking story for all of us. >> reporter: it is absolutely gut wrenching, wolf. when you walk around newtown and
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see the memorials and see the adults holding the hands of their 4 and 5-year-olds carrying teddy bears, who are wiping tears away as they place these teddy bears down perhaps for young people they knew, perhaps for young people they didn't, but they want to pay respect. we want to pay respect. as we talk so much about these little lives lost, all 20 of them, it is so important for us before this memorial for us to talk about the adults, and really the heroes at the school. i want to begin by talking about victoria, vicki soto. she was young herself, first grade teacher, 27 years of age. she heard the gunshots and immediately grabbed her students and tried to move them away, move them away from the door when he entered the school. she is actually believed to have had the foresight to have hidden some of her students inside a closet in the first grade classroom, and later police found seven of them, seven survivors, thanks to vicki soto inside that closet. let me read this quote from her
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cousin. "she instinctively went into action when a monster came into the classroom and tried to protect the kids she loved so much. we want the public to know that vicki was a hero." two other people from the school, you need to hear their stories. dawn hochsprung, the principal, 47 years of age. she'd been at the school for two years. when you talk to people who knew her, a friend said she's passionate. she always had a smile on her face. she was just that kind of educator you wanted in charge of your students. kids loved her. the friend that went on to say she was a tough woman but in the right sense tough. as i mentioned, she was a newer principal, and one of her priorities, which she, in fact, followed through on, was installing this new security system at this elementary school at sandy hook elementary school so that, if there were to be a stranger or visitor to come to the school after the school doors closed at 9:30 in the morning, they would have to ring the bell. security very important for dawn
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hochsprung. friday morning, she was in a meeting, according to a parent, with the school psychologist, and they heard the pop, pop, pop, and immediately sprang into action. and lunged for the shooter, and that is when she passed away. one report, as she was lunging for this young man, there was a teacher down the hallway, who she yelled at, get in the classroom, close the door, lock the door from the inside, all of this from this principal lunging at the shooter. she was married. she had two daughters, three stepdaughters. let me read you this one tweet, wolf. this was from her 30-year-old daughter, christine. "my mom was taken tragically from me, but she went down in a blaze of glory that truly represents who she was." just two of the many names, wolf, we're finally hearing a little bit more, the stories, how they want to be remembered in this tragic, tragic time in newtown, connecticut. >> we're only beginning to learn about some of the other victims of this tragedy as well, brook.
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thanks very much. so many people have come up to me on the streets here in newtown over the past day or two and said they would like to do something to help. for those of you who would like to help those affected, here's what you can do. you can go to cnn.com/impact. you can impact your world. we've got good ideas what you can do right here in newtown and the area. some good ideas at cnn.com/impact. anderson? >> thanks very much. you just heard brook baldwin talk about dawn hochsprung, the principal of sandy hook elementary, a longtime educator. she'd been at the school, i think, for 12 years. we've been hearing so much about her just in the last couple of days. there's so many other people that we' really just starting to learn about. dawn became the principal of
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sandy hook two years ago. lilian is the former chair of the newtown board of education. she helped choose dawn for that position. she joins me now. lilian, you knew all of the educators who were killed. you knew a number of the children as well. first of all, how are you holding up? >> my families, it comes and goes. the first day we were a mess and couldn't sleep at night. just like everybody else in newtown, i couldn't sleep. at 3:00 in the morning, i got up, powered up my computer, and half of newtown was on facebook. you do what you can. i just took a meal to one of the families. everyone's doing that. the grocery store was -- the nar where the dishes are that you buy to give is decimated. so everyone's trying to help now. >> what do you want people to know about this place, about this school? >> i was involved with sandy hook for 17 years with my children and with a program i run there, and this school is unique in the fact that, for instance, the parent community is so strong. there was never a time we had to beg for volunteers. we had sometimes to turn
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volunteers away because it was such an engaged community. the staff, the teachers -- everyone says, well, teachers love their children, and that's very true, but in sandy hook you never doubted that this staff was committed to every child, no matter their ability rate, and that they were very focused on making sure that every child succeeded. our motto at sandy hook was all children can and will learn well, and the teachers took that very seriously. so for me as a parent and as someone who worked in the school as a regular volunteer, it was a place of joy and love. and to imagine those little children having that violated in all of us, this ripples out beyond who's in the school today. the college kids that used to go to sandy hook, they're devastated. they're out there talking, trying to figure out what to do next. they're becoming activists in different areas. for this to happen to this school that was so connected through the years, not just
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who's there today, but we all feel so connected, it makes it much more tragic and much more violated. >> i always think teachers are heroes on any given day. >> yes, i agree. >> but what happened on that day, i talked to one teacher who, when she sensed something was going on but didn't know what, gathered her kids, sat them down in the corner as they drilled, and read to them. >> was that mrs. fulner? >> right. continued to read to them. >> consummate professionals always have the children foremost in their mind, which is true for teachers across the country, and i know that. but in following the drills, making sure all the drills we'd done, they all followed those procedures. whoever in the office, one of the secretaries, left that intercom on, that's one of the biggest heroes of this night. >> that's how everyone knew something was going on. >> that's what i mean about this community. where we go from here is we have to lead with love, and that's what i'm concerned about, that in the short term, leading with
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love to put our arms around the families. everyone across the world is asking, how do we help? you help with love. then you don't let little 6 and 7-year-old kids get trapped in their classrooms and gunned down by a mad man with no way out and not have that change the way we respond to this kind of violence. we have to go forward. >> something has to change. >> something has to change. i don't have the answers. but i think we've got to have a peaceful, loving discussion as a country and maybe at the world level about multiple issues, including mental health, gun control, and how we build our schools. sandy hook had that intercom in place after columbine. you could not get into that school. he shot his way in through glass doors. perhaps the schools need to be changed, but we structure materials. and i know, being a board member, everything is money. so we have to look at this. what i want is everyone to come at this in a loving way.
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we're so divisive any way as a country, but this should be a defining moment where we come together and solve this problem together. >> i've had so many people come up and take me by the hand or the arm and say something's got to come out of this. >> you can't let little children -- all the other tragedies we've had have been horrific, and now we're talking about babies. and gunned down with a weapon that didn't take any marksmanship at all. it's unconscionable this still happens in this country and this place of peace and love and joy where everyone felt safe, i had to smile. i was much waing what you guys were doing now. every time you say sandy hook, what it resonates in me is childhood because of sandy hook school, and that's an innocence, and it's gone now. we'll get it back. this community will get it back. >> a lot of people have said that in newtown, a couple of people came up to me last night and said, look, this is not who we are. we want this town to be known for who we are.
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>> and that's love, and the caring and compassion. >> and we see that in the memorials that have sprung up everywhere. >> it's more than people showing up. it's people really, truly bonding, whenever a family has a tragedy, bonding around that family, 9/11, anything that's happened in newtown, people rise to the occasion. that's wonderful for us that's here, but we can't have this keep happening in the future or even in another newtown school. i mean, who knows? >> i appreciate you being with us. >> thank you, anderson. >> and, wolf, we've heard that from so many people, want something to come out of this, want something to be done. maybe we'll hear more about it tonight at this service we'll be starting around 7:00. president obama is here in newtown, connecticut, already this evening. obviously, wolf, he'll be attending that service and speaking at that service. >> the folks are arriving at the auditorium, at the high school,
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not very far from you are, right down the street from where i am in newtown. you see some of the dignitaries. if you look on the right side of your screen, you can see near the stage senator joe lieberman standing there. this is a different shot. senator lieberman, senator blumenthal, the other senator from connecticut, senator murphy, the incoming senator, and you see clergy that have gathered to participate in this interfaith service. there's senator lieberman in the right corner of your screen. people have come from all over this state. they want to be part of this. they want to be a part of this memorial service, and people are just coming here to newtown to do whatever they can. done lemon is out in the streets watching what's going on. don, it started very slowly, what we saw, people just bringing some toys or some flowers, a christmas tree, legos. you've been showing it to our viewers. now it's growing, as you say, very, very quickly. people want to show their
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respect. >> reporter: yeah, they do. i said exponentially, and it is growing exponentially. not just from around the state, but from all over the area, tristate area and beyond. i want our viewers to see this. you see the pictures there of two little cherubs. you see the stuffed animals, dogs, winnie the pooh and flowers people have been buying. every second someone drops something off. candy canes here and ornaments on the christmas trees. let me introduce you to some of these people. we're going to walk through and talk. if they don't want to talk to us, we'll be very respectful. you're from new york, roman? you came all the way from new york why? >> because i want to pay respect to the victims of sandy hook elementary school, and it's very tragic. i think it's respectful to come and pay respect to the victims. >> reporter: you're from new york. again, not even from here. as we've been saying, coming from all over. people have been watching it on television, and rather than just watching, you want to be a part of it. you're from this town, though?
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>> i'm from southbury, the next town over. >> reporter: it's very odd. you meet people from all over. you're from my hometown, baton rouge. you and anderson have been talking about people coming up and talking to us and saying thank you for respectful coverage. thank you for being here and showing the world what kind of town we are, what kind of state connecticut is. you guys are really banning together to help the people here. >> that's correct, don. i'm out here tonight just to show people how much we appreciate them coming out, praying for us, loving us the way they've been doing over the last couple of days. it's been amazing. >> reporter: i want to show you guys where we are. this is shops. it's the center of town. it's the town square. usually people come out here during the evenings or during the day and shop or come to the restaurants, but it's never, ever this busy. i just want to walk through to show you the crowd of people who have gathered here. right across the street, you see a big sign that says god bless
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sandy hook. and it's faith, hope, and love, and lighted christmas lights over there. that's the street that leads up to the school. it's been blocked off by police officers. police officers and safety officers out here to make sure people are safe once they're out here. there was a family here, emmitt and his family, they dropped off stuffed animals just to add to the pile here. i just want believe how many stuffed animals, how many people have come out and just dropped things off. there's emmitt. emmitt, come talk to us. you're from where? >> we're from monroe. >> reporter: the next town over? >> yes. >> reporter: which is believed to be where the elementary school the kids are going to go to monroe. >> that's correct. my son here ryan attended that school. that's my understanding is that's where they're going to be. >> reporter: and this is your wife? >> yes, jill. >> reporter: you're out here because? >> to leave some stuffed animals that are our daughters, just to let everybody know we're
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thinking of them, and our hearts are with them. >> reporter: ryan, you attend school in the area? >> yeah. >> reporter: how old are you? >> i'm 14. >> reporter: you're 14 years old. you can't imagine, i'm sure, the horrific event that these people suffered through and the kids here. >> yeah, it was pretty shocking. i was home sick that friday when it happened, and i woke up, and my dad was like there was a shooting, and it was just very scary. i didn't know. my friends were texting me saying, they're in a lockdown and everything. my mom was at the high school helping at a blood drive, and they were just in a lockdown and everything. >> reporter: i would imagine that you can't -- it's unfathomable to think about your school district, the school district that neighbors yours. you feel safe at school usually, don't you? >> yeah, sometimes, but you never are really safe. >> reporter: that's the sentiment here. usually kids take their stuffed animals, and they keep them forever and parents because they mean something, but you want to
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give this to these kids. >> our daughter is the same age as so many of these victims. this is a tribute to those children, those young lives that were lost. you can't put it into words. a lot of people have said that, but you really, truly can't put it into words. >> reporter: i imagine you're here because everyone is saying, we feel helpless in some way. we want to contribute. >> you do. you feel absolutely helpless and speechless and just feel numb, absolutely numb. >> reporter: wolf, there you have it. just a few of the folks who are out here. literally hundreds of people, if not thousands, have been streaming through this makeshift memorial. as we close, i just want to show you. it's really a beautiful sight to see in such a tragic event, the outpouring and that people care so much that they would give such personal things like the teddy bears and the things that mean so much to them growing up, that they would give it to someone else just to show how much they care and how much they support the victims and the
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families and everyone around this area. >> don, very, very moving. a very, very moving tribute, very, very moving memorials. very simple, but very powerful. once again, we're standing by to hear from the president of the united states. we're told right now that the president, sanjay, he's started meeting with families. he's come here to convey his condolences to many fa liz. he's been meeting with some of the first responders, and he'll be heading over to the newtown high school fairly soon for the start of this interfaith memorial service. you can see the ministers, the rabbis, the clergy, they're getting ready right there. there on the left, you see the reverend matthew crebben, who we spoke to earlier. on the right, you see the rabbi praver as well. they're going to be participating in this. all the faiths will be part of this. sanjay, you've studied, as a physician, how people grieve and
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the emotional and physical problems that can develop. when i spoke to the rabbi and the minister yesterday, they were in the fire there is house when the parents were told their children are dead, and they started wailing and screaming. you can only imagine. what do you do? these people are still going through this. >> and they will go through it for a long time. imagine the idea of a parent losing their child. perhaps in their entire lives it's something they won't get over. it's just hard to even fathom, wolf. i will tell you there's different stages of grief. the disbelief, i think, that you're describing is very normal. first stage. sometimes there's anger, and that anger and shock sort of together. but eventually i'm just so struck by robbie parker's comments yesterday -- >> the 30-year-old father, a physician's assistant. >> and his daughter emilie was one of the victims here. his acceptance and his
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forgiveness so soon after is remarkable to see. i think that's a stage that eventually people get to, this idea of acceptance. it does not come easily, and for some people it may not come at all, but those are sort of the stages, i think. we talk about it in a medical sense, when someone is sick in a hospital, for example, or if you've lost a loved one in a hospital, but certainly in a mass tragedy like this, it's a lot of the same thing. again, we've talked about this idea -- and don mentioned this idea, people sort of knowing that other people are going through the same thing, that they are not specifically sort of experiencing this together, i think, can make a huge difference for them. >> i don't know what to say. our coverage will continue right after this. the interfaith memorial service will start with the president and the clergy and the families, the friends, the people of newtown, connecticut, at the high school right at the top of the hour. we'll be right back. this is america.
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welcome back. i'm standing outside the high school in newtown, connecticut, where president obama will be speaking. along with many church leaders. an interfaith service, rabbis, ministers from other religions as well. you can see hundreds of people have already gathered in the high school. looks like hundreds more are still in the line outside. more people keep coming. everyone just wants to be here, wants to be part of this and share in the grief together. jason carroll is joining us now. jason, you actually talked with a church teacher who spent time with some of the kids who were at the school. how are they doing? her name, anderson, is sue vogelman. she has very strong ties to sandy hook elementary. she taught there for ten years. she is now a church teacher, and many of the students from sandy hook elementary were in her
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classroom today. this is the first time that so many of the students were in a classroom setting since the tragic events on friday. we talked about how it was for her, how it was for the students. she said there was a lot of anxiety, anxiety on the part of the parents. some of the parents were unsure about putting their children back in a classroom setting even if it is a sunday school classroom setting so soon. some of the children are at much different levels. some of the children didn't know anything about the event. some of the children did know. some of the children knew some of the young boys and young girls that had been killed. so we talked about all of those things in a very candid, very emotional conversation just a little earlier. i want you to listen to just a small sample of that conversation. sundayy school was today. you had a lot of children here in this room. what was that like for you? >> there was a little bit -- it was actually very scary because i spent yesterday trying to prepare for today, but you don't know what's going to happen.
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and then later on where we got to the part where we prayed, pretty much every child in here all had a prayer, and many of them were my friend jack died. my friend ben died. my friend charlotte died. so we prayed. we prayed. we probably prayed more than we've ever prayed before. and then some of them prayed for their mom and dad, and some of them prayed for butterflies because they're all at different places. >> again, just a small sampling of some of the conversation we were having. i'll show that later tonight on your show, anderson. one of the other points she wanted to make about what was happening with her today is that she really felt strongly that what is helping her, some of the other teachers, and even some of the children get through all of this is the fact that they've been receiving an outpouring of support from all over the country. and strangely enough, even some of the young children are feeling that. some of the children that knew about what had happened said
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they knew they were getting words of encouragement from as far away places as south america and south africa. so those were some of the positive things that happened, but there was a lot of emotion there in that classroom today. anderson? >> there's emotion really everywhere in this town. i've had people come up to me and say, i have no more tears left. and yet we see people crying all the time. it's hard not to when you're here. president obama's arrival, of course, reminds us of the many difficult roles that a president plays in our national life. i want to bring in our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin, who's joining me here right now. the president, we believe, is already inside the high school, yes? >> yes, he's grieving and comforting families who have lost loved ones. >> and the service is to start at 7:00. he'll also be speaking there. >> he'll be speaking, and i'm told that the president has himself been working on these remarks. he's taken it personally and been preparing them, even on his way up here, anderson.
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told that the remarks will speak to the nation's obligations to our children. this is a president who often struggles to show emotion, and we saw him so unusually emotional on friday. some of the people closest to him tell me it's because this tragedy has touched him as much as any event in his political life, and we saw that when he came out to the briefing room and addressed it. here's a little bit of what he said. >> so our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost. our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early,
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and there are no words that will ease their pain. >> it really was remarkable to see the president like that. he did intimate the possibility of something really into gun control. he didn't use the words gun control, but he talked about some sort of change. >> he said it's time to take meaningful action, and he didn't specify what that is to him. he did vow to stand for the repeal of the assault weapons ban in his first term. he did not press for that, to close the gun show loophole. he never pressed for that. those are two actions he could take. there's also the question, will he pursue some sort of mental health reforms? it's interesting he will never have to stand for re-election. he doesn't have to fight the gun lobby. that's something democrats often contend with. so we'll see what he presses for, and that's one of the big challenges tonight. you know, anderson, for him he has to express the nation's grief, but the more effective he is at capturing the nation's
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emotions tonight, the more people will turn to him as the person who is the symbol of solving this problem, the more effective he can be at advocating whatever policy he chooses to pursue in the wake of this tragedy. >> and the whole mental health issue is something that is so rarely addressed. it's treated so differently than other forms of illness. we'll see if this event does change that in some way. >> and it was a natural one for his good friend ted kennedy. we'll see if that helps him. >> all of that will take place at 7:00. let's go back to wolf. >> anderson, let's get more now on the first victim of this rampage, the shooter's mother nancy lanza. cnn's erin burnett sat down with friends of nancy lanza at a restaurant she patronized
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several times a week. they said that nancy didn't have a regular day job but dedicated her time to charity work. >> when did you first meet nancy? >> 12, 13 years ago. met her right here in the bar. she'd come in here and have takeout food, and we got to know each other. we used to talk in the bar. just like clicked, and that was it. you know, just started talking and we became good friends. >> she was very friendly, outgoing. she was funny. we took to her. so, yeah, she just became fast friends with us. she did a lot in town, was always on the go. >> given that you knew her as a person and some of the things you've been hearing as the country started to learn a little bit about her, what do you think some of the biggest misconceptions are that you've heard on the news? >> i think mostly the -- between the condition that he had, which people could confuse for being the reason, and the guns.
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you know, we -- we don't think that has anything to do with her character. >> she donated her time for all charitable work, helping people that needed help. helping aids people, donate money for aids and charities. that's what she did. she didn't get paid for doing what she did. all charitable work. she did it all on her own. >> very generous. >> very generous person. a person could be sitting here and just say you're talking to her, and they just happen to be saying, i don't have any money for this or any money for that, she'd take out her checkbook and write a check out and give it to the person without even knowing them. that's the kind of person she was. >> just kind. >> she was a generous, kind person. >> shooter killed his mother. she was the first victim of this brutal, brutal massacre. we're learning more about some of the other victims as well. brook baldwin is joining us once
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again. these stories are so, so heart wrenching, each and every one. 26 people, 6 adults, all women, 20 kids, all first graders. >> reporter: it is absolutely gut wrenching when you start hearing about the stories of these youngsters. i just want to let you know, one of the grandparents, a grandfather of two young kids who were actually in vicki deso desoto's first grade class just came up to me. he didn't want to go on camera, but he said the first thing his granddaughter said after running past the gunman and surviving was she wanted to see the president tonight. unfortunately, it's a capacity crowd, and she couldn't get in. she absolutely refuses to go back to school on wednesday, according to this grandparent. we are learning more and more about these little lives lost. i just want to begin with someone that a lot of people are talking about because we heard from her father. she was emilie parker, 6 years
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old. not a dry eye when everyone was hearing the details of her life from her young father. according to her father, he said emilie was the type of person who could light up a room. she was bright. she was creative. she was loving. her laughter was infectious. she was the oldest of three little girls, and her father said that emilie was a mentor this them. they looked up to her. they're wondering where their sister is. jessica rico, 6 years old. she was the first born. she was their rock. she was referred to as the ceo. she did all the detailing. she loved the family outings and got to plan them. she loved horses, like every 6-year-old girl. she was drawing horses and loved to watch horse movies. she asked santa claus, not too long ago, for this christmas, she wanted cowgirl boots and a
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cowgirl hat. sadly, those gifts will not be opened. she has two little brothers, and her baby brother travis doesn't understand why he can't play with his best friend. one more, olivia engel, 6. family says she was precocious and completely endearing. nothing was off limits for her. she loved ballet. she loved to swim. she loved soccer. she loved girl scouts. and her favorite colors were pink and purple. and every night, wolf and anderson, she led the table at dinner with grace. these are just 3 of the 20 youngsters who are no longer with us here in newtown, connecticut. >> every one of these kids so, so beautiful, so adorable, and unfortunately, so tragic. what a way to be for their lives to end so prematurely. for our viewers who would like to help, they can do so, they can once again go to cnn.com/impact, and they'll have a chance to impact our world. sanjay is here with us as well.
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sanjay, mental health, it's a huge problem in this country. this shooter obviously had mental health issues. i don't know if he was treated for this. i don't know if he was on medication. they did release the autopsy results today. >> as expected, it wasn't going to provide answers as far as if there's anything specifically that could explain this. i think we know that he committed suicide. they wanted to confirm that as part of the autopsy, but that was really about it. but you're absolutely right. this whole notion of mental health, being on par or having parity, as we call it, with physical diseases, with heart disease, with diabetes, cancer, whatever it is. in those situations, wolf, we know we can send someone to a doctor or they can get care. >> if you have a temperature, if you have the flu, you're coughing, you treat it. but sometimes parents see mental health issues, and they don't do what they need to do. >> i think it's a very important
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point because people say, look, they missed the signs, or they were in denial. sometimes it may be true, but oftentimes, as you've heard the stories over the years, parents have a great deal of anguish over maybe in this case their child's mental health, but there isn't much that they can do. i mean, the resources aren't there necessarily, either in the medical sense or just having enough physicians or having the overall infrastructure to support this. part of it is also stigma. it still very much exists. it's existed for a long time. we'd like to think it's getting better, but this idea of, if you get treated for a mental illness, you'll be stag ma tiesed, and it will affect you for the rest of your life, needs to be dispelled. you can get treatment. >> there is medication that people, young people, teenagers and adults can take, but a lot of times they just refuse to take the medication. sometimes the results can be tragic. >> medications. cognitive therapy has been shown
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to be effective in these sorts of things. group therapy. some of it we're seeing now, this is a very different situation, but this idea again that many of these people who are mental illness, they're not alone. they can benefit from being in sessions where it's shown to them, that they have groups to support. but you're right. they have things that can be done. it's just a question of making a system possible for those people. we're not there. i can tell you that as a physician. and the hospitals are right, we're not there. that parity is something that needs to happen. >> unfortunately, a lot of the children who were at this school, children all over the country, they're going to have serious issues now dealing with the fallout from this. >> post-traumatic stress is something that exists in children as well. again, we think about it primarily in adults, but it manifests. it displays in different ways. children may regress a bit, they may not talk about it. sleep is so important. you can predibllingt -- it's a
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very powerful predictor of how children and adults alike are going to do by how well they're sleeping. if there's something that parents can do tonight and the next few nights as they're talking to their children about it, make sure they're getting sleep because that's going to be a big powerful predictor for their future. >> we're only moments away from this prayer vigil. the folks are there. the president is meeting with some of the families now, the parents of the victims, some of the others, first responders. we're going to have extensive live coverage. you can see what's going on right now over at the high school here in newtown. we'll take a quick break, resume our coverage right after this. ♪ ooh baby, looks like you need a little help there ♪
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welcome back to our continuing coverage. you're looking at a town, nation in mourning. the president is live at newtown high school. you're looking inside where
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hundreds have gathered. many hundreds more still outside waiting for the beginning of this interfaith prayer service. that's to start at 7:00 eastern time. we're going to be bringing that to you live without interruption. we'll not be talking over it. it will all just playing out as the people inside are hearing it, you at home it can hear it and take part in it as well. the president is at the school in classrooms, meeting with various family members who have lost family members ats the school. teachers and administrators as well who have lost their lives, their families here in newtown simply overwhelmed with relief and gratitude. their children were inside the school. they made it out alive. among them, the likatas whose son aidan ran past the shooter and escaped. now they're grappling with the idea of telling their young son his teacher is gone. listen to what they had to say.
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we'll get you that sound a little bit. aidan's teacher was victoria soto, who placed herself in front of her students before the gunman shot her. she told the gunman her students weren't in the classroom. don lemon is in newtown by one of the many makeshift memorials we saw spring up. he's been talking to people all evening long. it really strikes me, don, a lot of people aren't just from newtown. they're from other parts of connecticut who have come here to bear witness, to be part of this and to pay their respects to those who lost their lives. >> yeah, a collective hug is what you could call it. and we're here in the town square, newtown town square, and it's really lit up like a christmas village here. that's a tavern back there. and then you see the town center there, and just beyond that,
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police activity that sort of ruins the whole christmas spirit and the idyllic look in this whole town. everyone is gathered around the christmas tree and hanging out with their friends, but they're all gathered around the television sets awaiting word from the president. they're actually down here tonight because they want to be part of this. this is where the media is camped out. that's where the methodist church is where you and i were last night, anderson. and this christmas tree here every year, it's a big christmas tree, and there is makeshift memorial that we have been talking about. it's growing by the minute here. there's so many stuffed animals and things they piled on top of each other. they're making sure all the candles are lit. someone comes by with a lighter just to make sure. this gentleman is standing by here. you've lived in this community your whole life? >> yes. >> reporter: what's your name? >> chris siemen.
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my family's been here since the 1930s, and i've lived here my whole life. it's devastating. there's no words. it's a nightmare, a complete nightmare. our town will rebuild. >> reporter: this is not what you want this town to be remembered for? >> no, not at all. we're on the map for the wrong reasons. it's just horrible. >> reporter: how are you and can you -- i imagine that you will recover, but it will never be the same here. >> it will never be the same, but day by day, say our prayers, and things will get back together eventually. >> reporter: thank you so much. >> thank you. >> reporter: wish the very beste these stay lighted. >> we have all grown up here and we feel these candles need to stay lit. these are for the 26 gorgeous angels now in heaven, and it's our job to take care of everyone in in town, including this memorial. >> reporter: did you go to school here? >> yeah, we all did. >> reporter: why did you go to school? >> we went to a couple different elementary schools, but we all
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went through the newtown school system all the way through high school. >> reporter: you felt safe then, but things are different now. >> things are different, but nothing changes about this town. this town is a wonderful, beautiful place to grow up in, and, unfortunately, these beautiful children will not experience what we've experienced, but our thoughts and feelings about this town have not changed. we will get through this together. >> reporter: what's your name? >> samantha. >> taylor. >> reporter: thank you, guys. god bless you. i want to move down here and talk to some of these folks. these guys, you're from a neighboring town? >> yeah. >> reporter: and they're rivals, maybe sports rivals, but tonight year all together? >> absolutely. we're all in this together. when something like this happens, i mean, towns around here are really close. we just pull together for each other. you know, that's really what's important, and around, you know, the holiday season, i think it's great to see so many people out here from all over the place supporting each other. you know, it helps a little bit, but circumstances still tough.
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>> reporter: what's your name? >> i'm ardian. >> reporter: what you do you play? >> football, sir. >> for which town? >> new fairfield high school. >> i played baseball for new fairfield as well. >> reporter: what's your name? >> i'm trevor. i played football and track. i have a little brother who is 8 years old. i can only imagine what the families are dealing with now. >> reporter: where were you when you found out about this? >> i was actually at my house, just got back from college, and i think it was all the same circumstance for everybody else, too. we looked at our phones and realized it was happening. we realized it was a town over and it really hit hard when we knew like some people that are involved and everything like that. >> reporter: i asked the other gentleman, this is not something -- or said to him this is not something you want your town or the towns in this area of connecticut to be known for. >> not at all. it's just a tragedy and we're trying to go through it together. >> reporter: the entire world is watching tonight, not just in the united states but our viewers from around the world. what do you want them to know about the people here?
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>> people here are great. just an area filled with wonderful people. i couldn't be blessed with better neighbors than i have. i have tons of role models starting with my friends, my teachers, my family. i think everyone around here is family. you know, you can't base -- you can't judge a town or people based on an occurrence like this. you know, you kind of got to judge them based on how they handle it and move forward. i think we're definitely doing that and it's wonderful to see. >> reporter: thank you, guys. we're going to move this way, if you can walk around here. this is one of the many christmas trees that people have just been dropping off, christmas trees, and we spoke earlier to the family that dropped this off and the gentleman, the husband is an electrician by trade and he put this tree together and this is the names of all of the children who died in the school, and there are other christmas trees that have been put up here. the big one off to my left here, that's here every year, but the smaller ones are to honor the victims. where are you from? >> trumbull, connecticut. >> what's your name?
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>> nina. >> reporter: you're here because? >> i just wanted come out and support the families. >> reporter: you couldn't sit at home? >> no, i couldn't sit at home. i went to see the president but the traffic is just too much traffic down there. >> reporter: what's your name? >> i'm mary jones from bridgeport, connecticut. >> reporter: i said earlier that people here want to come out because they don't want to feel helpless. does this help? >> yes, it does. it does. instead of just sitting there and watching it on the tv. it's much better to just be among and to show the support and the love that we have for them. >> reporter: i don't know if there's anything good that can come out of this, but if there is, what is it? >> like you said, we don't know if there's anything good that can come out of it. just have to pray, pray for the families, pray for everyone. there's nothing that we can really do but pray. you know. >> reporter: thank you, ladies. we're going to move back here. thank you. we're going to move back here and you see these guys over here? they're bringing their candles
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and they're lighting them. do you mind if we talk to you? >> no, actually. i prosecutefer not to. >> the same over here. sorry about that. >> reporter: it's okay. if people don't want to talk to us, we don't do it. we want to be respectful. you see them hugging each other. that's the sentiment, people hugging and crying and praying and just sending well wishes, anderson, and that's the spirit of this particular community here. they want to show their support, and, again, they don't want to feel helpless, they want to feel useful and come out and show how much they love this town and that they don't want this town to be remembered for this particular tragedy. instead, a town that pulled together when a tragedy happened. >> yeah. and we are -- we're really just moments away from the start of this service. the high school where the service is set to begin, i can tell you still whole families are still arriving here hoping to get inside. people are bringing their little
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children, just walking by. they pass by a smaller makeshift memorial that's been set up outside the school and walk towards the school. there's a long line that's slowly moving into the auditorium there, but as you can see, it is already full up. the president is inside the school as well already meeting with family members. the service is set to begin at 7:00 eastern time, and we, of course, will bring that to you live, and there he sue senator lieberman talking to a number of people inside, wolf. >> you see, anderson, you saw the outgoing senator lieberman of connecticut speaking with representatives from the clergy. this service, we now have some details of what is about to begin once the president gets there. representatives of i think most of the major faiths here in the united states will be participating, patriot protestants, catholics, from the
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jewish religion. there will be a representative from the islamic center here. also someone from the baha'i tradition will be here as well. we will be hearing brief passages from all of them and, of course, the president of the united states will be speaking as well. he's now comforting. he's now meeting with some of the families. the families of the victims, the young kids, the adults who were tragically gunned down at that elementary school friday morning. cnn attended eed the first meet of thetown united. tell us what that's folks are hoping to accomplish in this small community. >> reporter: remember, everyone here is grieving, and even the people who new children who died, these are people, parents, who are friends with the patients of the children who died in that room. they say, yes, tonight they are
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the backdrop of a nation that is mourning, the backdrop of a president who will play comforter in chief, but tomorrow what they don't want lost, what they don't want to become is just another headline. they want a true national discussion tomorrow about difficult issues, difficult issues like the proliferation of guns and mental illness. here is what this group told us. >> we live in an increasingly vouoristic society that has become more distant from each other on personal and interpersonal level, and that's how somebody can feel so distant from other people that they could actually shoot children. >> communication in this country is broken. the political system, we cannot find common ground to talk about anything it seems like these days, and if this is a trigger point or a tipping point for us and our elected officials to actually start talking to each other in a way that's respectful and results in real change, that would be huge. >> reporter: you can hear how
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frustrated they are. they are extremely frustrated. they are still heart broken, but they say that they want to enact some sort of change. they feel that many people in america feel the same way that they do. they say the best way to channel their grief is to lead to some change. they don't know how to do this, wolf. they are hoping though to learn along the way and that the rest of the country will join them. wolf? >> thanks very much. sanjay gupta is watching what's going on. he's here with me as well. the people who are there at the auditorium in this high school right down the stlereet, these e people who have just come out, they want to participate in this, they want to remember what happened and then move on, but it's not going to be easy for this community. school is supposed to resume tomorrow morning. a lot of parents, they're going to be reluctant presumably to send their kids to school. >> you have to assume in this day and age that even for the weekend, if you

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